A Taste of Argentina, In Boulder
Rincon Argentino is tucked away in The Village at Arapahoe and Folsom, near McGuckins Hardware. They don’t really advertise, though they do have a nice website. The interior is small, homey and inviting. Futbol matches play on the tv, tables line the walls and a bar counter faces the open kitchen. The kitchen itself is beautiful, immaculately clean and always busy. The oven is wood-burning, visible from most points in the restaurant, and certainly adds to the authenticity.
I found it a couple years ago, shortly after they’d opened, by pure happenstance as I walked down Folsom. I love empanadas, be they savory or sweet, and the signs were blazoned on the side. Fresh Argentinian Empanadas. My heart sang, my stomach growled and I introduced myself to a trio of them. I can’t remember what I had, but they were amazing. I dragged my wife there, so that she could try them. I made a believer out of her.
I go back when I can, though I’m not in Boulder as often as I’d like. So when thinking about local places that deserved some attention, and food that I love to eat that I didn’t cook, they came to mind instantly. And it didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The menu itself is varied, offering nine meat-filled empanadas and five
vegetarian-friendly open-faced castanadas. In addition to that, there are milanesa sandwiches, lomitos and authentic Argentinian choripan. And then there are the amazing sauces, the imported and very culturally traditional Mate, the fantastic desserts. They even have Argentinian wine and beer.
As difficult as it was to decide, I kept it to three. I wanted to order the whole menu, you see. To sample each and every flaky
pastry and savory innard, for the reader’s benefit. Solely for the reader’s benefit, I assure you. I went with the Criola, full of spicy ground beef, onions, peppers and chiles. And then the Patagonia, full of parmesan, tomato, garlic and basil. For the finale? The Hongos, containing my favorite trio of mushrooms from Hazel Dell, criminis, shiitake and oysters, along with lemon, garlic and parsley.
It was difficult to remember to savor them, to eat them slowly so as to be able
to describe them accurately. The Criola had all the flavors you’d expect from Latin cuisine, but beautiful, decadent and blooming on the tongue. The sauces altered the ingredients, from the garlicky Chimichurri to the heavily spiced red Asado, letting the tongue find different parts of the empanada, different flavors to appreciate. Pretty impressive, really, that one empanada can provide such an experience.
The Patagonia too was perfect, showing the broader European influences on
Argentinian cuisine, as well as the chef’s creative palate. I could tell you more, but I was quite hungry and may have eaten that one in two bites. Maybe three? I saved the Hongos for last, and thus remembered to take a picture of it. I really enjoyed it with the Chimichurri in particular, the parsley and garlic with red wine vinegar complimenting it perfectly.
And I was lucky enough, after my meal, to get a chance to talk to chef and owner Christian Saber about Rincon. He was warm, friendly and gracious as we talked about bringing this little piece of Argentina to Boulder, for him to share food and culture. The response they’ve had has been generally positive, to the point that Saber had to switch his local beef vendor because they couldn’t keep up with the demand. Rincon’s menu is sourced locally, with an emphasis on natural and organic as well. From Boulder Natural for the chicken and beef, to Hazel Dell for those lovely mushrooms, Rincon Argentino is local all the way. All but the Mate, that is, which is imported from the region of Argentina where Saber was born.
The best news of all is that Saber and his team have acquired the space next to
them too, so that they can expand the restaurant and provide more amazing Argentinian cuisine to lovely Boulder. So please, go stop in and say hi. Eat a few empanadas, enjoy some Mate and then take a few dozen empanadas home with you.